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Understanding Friction Corns

Soft corns, also known as helloma molle, form after irritation between two toes. The corn is usually whitish but can appear gray, or yellow and has a spongy texture. Soft corns are moist because they absorb excessive skin sweat trapped between the toes. Pain is the major symptom, but if neglected the skin and underlying bone may eventually become infected.

The soft corn is a common problem seen by podiatrists. After proper diagnosis, a treatment plan is established to control the pain, reduce the corn’s size and in severe cases, permanent surgical removal is available. The lesion often begins between the fourth and fifth toes as a friction blister, but other toes may be involved. With continued pressure and excessive perspiration, the process continues until a large corn has developed over the site of irritation. The toe then gets inflamed, and the pain can become so great that walking comfort is impaired.

The friction corn is formed between two bony prominences which “kiss” when in shoes. As shoes press the toes together the problem becomes worse and worse.

Treatment at the early stages should include periodic reducing of corn material along with shielding of the underlying bony enlargement with dispersion type padding. Foot powders and careful drying after bathing help to control sweating. If pain persists, an elective ambulatory surgical cure can be provided.. This consists of smoothing and/or removing the bony prominence so that further shoe pressure will no longer result in corn formation. This safe, simple procedure can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, or in the hospital or a surgical center on an outpatient basis.

The patient can usually be back in normal shoes within a couple of weeks with very little interruption of normal activities. Recurrences are rare and usually result form continued use of excessively tight shoes.
friction corns

This information has been prepared by the Consumer Education Committee of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, a professional society of 5,700 podiatric foot and ankle surgeons. Members of the College are Doctors of Podiatric Medicine who have received additional training through surgical residency programs. The mission of the College is to promote superior care of foot and ankle surgical patients through education, research and the promotion of the highest professional standards. Copyright © 2004, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, www.acfas.org

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